The Resurrection "Cover-up Story"

By Royce Frederick

       The religious leaders had spent much effort getting Jesus executed by the Roman government. Now that He was in the tomb, they were determined to keep Him there. With the permission of Pilate, the Roman governor, the enemies of Jesus sealed His tomb and placed some soldiers there to guard it.

       But early on the first day of the week, some of those soldiers came to the religious leaders and disturbed them with the news that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. They quickly decided to try to cover up the truth by giving the soldiers a bribe. They “...gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.’ So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (Matt. 28:12-15).

       The religious leaders could not keep the tomb of Jesus sealed and occupied, so they attempted to seal the lips of the soldiers. Notice how ridiculous their “cover-up story” is:

(1) The penalty for falling asleep during guard duty was usually death. Therefore, we should become highly suspicious at the open claim by the soldiers that they had fallen asleep.

(2) Our suspicion should be further aroused by the governor’s failure to execute the soldiers.

(3) We should be especially suspicious at the lack of outrage by the religious leaders. We would expect them to demand the execution of the soldiers.

(4) The “guard” or “watch” of soldiers at the tomb included at least three soldiers (see Matt. 28:11-12). It is strange for the soldiers to claim that they were all asleep at one time.

(5) It is totally unreasonable to believe that the disciples could roll away the large stone and steal the body of Jesus so quietly that a group of sleeping soldiers would not be disturbed.

(6) It is absurd for the soldiers to claim that they knew what happened and who did it, while at the same time claiming that they were asleep.

(7) With the Roman soldiers as “witnesses,” we should again be suspicious at the fact that no attempt was made to arrest the disciples on the charge of grave-robbing.

       There was no dispute at all concerning the fact that Jesus of Nazareth actually lived, that He died on the cross, and that His tomb became empty. Even the bitter enemies of Jesus did not deny these facts. Instead, those enemies tried to explain how His tomb became empty. Their ridiculous “cover-up story” serves as testimony from His enemies that the tomb of Jesus did indeed become empty. It is not surprising that thousands of people believed the testimony of the witnesses who saw the risen Lord, rather than believing the “cover-up story” (Acts 2:32-41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7).